Asian scene: Scare for Knockout
A busy month of action across Asia saw Knockout CP Freshmart given a scare, Shinsuke Yamanaka call it a day and much more. Marcus Bellinger rounds up all the action...
At the end of February Ryo Matsumoto challenged super bantamweight titlist Daniel Roman at the Korakuen Hall. It didn’t take at all long for this one to get going as both men willingly traded shots in the opening two rounds. The action continued to hot up with Matsumoto enjoying a good round three but the champion hadn’t been hurt by any of the punches from the challenger.
The middle rounds were competitive but Matsumoto allowed himself to be outworked and Roman's constant methodical approach was proving to be the difference. Matsumoto landed some solid body shots in rounds seven and eight and even prevented Roman from coming forward for brief moments but he was unable to sustain the momentum for long enough.
The American stepped on the gas in the championship rounds and took the decision via scores of 119-109 twice and 118-108 although these didn’t tell the story of what was a competitive and thoroughly entertaining affair.
If you didn’t catch it then Roman vs Matsumoto can be viewed here
The opening day of March saw Shinsuke Yamanaka look to reclaim the WBC bantamweight belt from Luis Nery at the Kokugikan in Tokyo. There was drama at the weigh-in as Nery disgracefully came in 5lbs over the limit.
Nery was stripped of his title having not made a single defence and was booed to the ring, a highly unusual occurrence in Japan. Yamanaka started pretty well in the opening minute but Nery soon took over and put the challenger down in the opening stanza. The Mexican then completely overwhelmed Yamanaka, scoring three more knockdowns in round two to bring the bout to a conclusion.
Yamanaka immediately announced his retirement and although this was an incredibly sad way for him to bow out the Teiken southpaw can be very proud of his achievements having made 12 defences of the WBC 118lbs crown and defeated the likes of Anselmo Moreno, Liborio Solis, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai and Vic Darchinyan.
As for Nery his reputation is now at rock bottom and he has been given a lifetime ban from boxing in Japan and at time of writing is still under suspension from the WBC.
The other world title contest on this bill saw Ryosuke Iwasa easily retain the IBF 122lbs strap for the first time with a wide points victory over Ernesto Saulong. Iwasa was in total command over the first three rounds and was finding a home for his southpaw left hand. Unfortunately as the fight progressed things became very messy and Saulong was unwilling to take any risks which made for dour viewing.
Iwasa seemed to make a breakthrough in round 11 but was unable to capitalise and the Filipino challenger managed to go the distance. At the final bell the judges' tallies read 120-108, 119-109 and 118-110 all to the champion who didn’t really shine in what was a forgettable bout all around.
Masayuki Ito booked his shot at a world title as he saw off Vergil Puton in nine rounds at the Korakuen Hall on 3 March. Ito scored a knockdown in round two and slowly broke the visitor down and with Vasyl Lomachenko vs Jorge Linares being consummated, Ito’s number 1 position with the WBO should see him challenge for the vacant belt in the next few months.
You can see Ito vs Puton here
Also on 3 March in Kanagawa Masayuki Kuroda clung on to his Japanese flyweight crown, narrowly staving off rugged challenger Katsunori Nagamine via ten-round decision by scores of 96-93, 96-94 and 95-94. Kuroda used an effective jab early on but Nagamine’s relentlessness saw him put the champion on the floor in round eight but Kuroda boxed well in the last two stanzas and could now move on to a world title tilt given his high ranking.
A few hours later at the Madison Square Garden Theatre, Kazakh middleweight Meiirim Nursultanov extended his record to 6-0 (5 KOs) with a sixth-round stoppage of Alejandro Torres as part of the undercard to Sergey Kovalev’s light heavyweight title defense versus Igor Mikhalkin.
Strawweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart was given an unexpected scare by Toto Landero in his latest world title defence in Chonburi on 6 March. Knockout began incredibly slowly, allowing the challenger to pick him off and gain real confidence during the first two rounds.
The Thai upped the tempo in round three but again the Filipino responded and after the first half of the bout a huge upset was on the cards. Knockout then hammered away to the body and seemed to have assumed command but Landero survived the onslaught and finished strongly however, it proved not to be enough with the champion retaining by scores of 119-110, 115-113 and 117-111. Next up looks to be a contest versus former champion Xiong Zhao Zhong.
You can take a look at Knockout vs Landero here
Two high calibre Uzbeks in Shakhram Giyasov and Murodjon Akhmadaliev have turned professional and signed contracts with Russian based outfit World of Boxing which is headed by Andrey Ryabinsky and well known manager Vadim Kornilov. The pair are to be trained by Joel Diaz in Indio California and made their debuts at the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, New York on 10 March.
Giyasov stopped Nicolas Velazquez inside a minute and Akhmadaliev also scored an opening round blowout of David Paz. This fine duo are certainly worth making a note of. Giyasov is a charismatic flashy and stylish boxer and the 24-year-old welterweight is an Olympic, World and Asian medallist. As for Akhmadaliev, the 23-year-old featherweight is a hard-nosed puncher, who has also claimed medals at the Olympics, World Championships and Asian Championships, having engaged in some terrific bouts with the likes of Michael Conlan and Robeisy Ramirez.
Uzbek pair Kudratillo Abdukakhorov and Azizbek Abdugofurov picked up points victories in Malaysia on 17 March. Abdukakhorov won a unanimous 12-round decision over Laszlo Toth via scores of 118-109, 117-110 and 116-111 while Abdugofurov prevailed over eight rounds versus Alfonso Tissen via tallies of 79-73, 78-74 and 77-75.
The next day at the Portopio Hotel in Kobe, Ryuya Yamanaka sparkled in his first defense of the WBO minimumweight title as challenger Moises Calleros stayed in his corner after round eight. From the opening bell Yamanaka was simply too sharp, too quick and too good for Calleros who was made to look slow and cumbersome. Yamanaka piled up the rounds and put on a boxing exhibition.
The champion showed no real signs of slowing down as we entered the second half of the bout and in round eight he hurt the Mexican but was unable to get the finish. By now Calleros was a pretty despondent figure and he failed to come out for round nine, capping a highly impressive performance from the 22-year-old Yamanaka, who will return for his next defence sometime in August.
On the same show Riya Konishi was slightly unfortunate to come up short against Carlos Canizales in a 12-round light flyweight clash for a regular bauble. In the early going Konishi was having spots of success but Canizales was outworking the man from Japan. The Venezuelan dropped Konishi with a right hand in round three and Canizales looked to be on his way to victory.
However, Konishi responded brilliantly to force Canizales on to the retreat in round four. Konishi continued his good work in rounds five, six and seven and was now right back in the contest. The pace slowed in round eight, allowing Canizales back into proceedings.
With it all to play for, the championship rounds produced some thrilling exchanges as the pair went to war and at the completion we had witnessed a terrific 12 rounds of action. In what seemed a tight fight, the cards read 114-113, 115-112 and 116-111 all to Canizales who will almost certainly return to Japan to face Ryoichi Taguchi in a rematch. As for Konishi he can feel a tad hard done by but he certainly proved he’s capable of competing at this level.
Reymart Gaballo prevailed in by far his biggest test to date, scoring a wide 12-round unanimous decision over Stephon Young at the Seminole Hard Rock and Casino in Hollywood, Florida on 23 March. Gaballo dropped Young with a right hand in round three and dominated for the most part with Young struggling to get any offense going. Scores at the final bell were 117-110 twice and 118-109 and the exciting Filipino youngster picked up an interim 118lbs belt in the process which will hopefully see him progress on to more significant fights.
Also in Florida fellow Filipino Mike Plania came up short against former bantamweight titlist Juan Carlos Payano despite putting the Dominican down in the third. The scores after ten rounds were 97-92 twice and 96-93.
Satoshi Shimizu successfully retained his OPBF featherweight strap for the second time as he stopped the tougher than expected Kyung Min Kwon at the Korakuen Hall on 26 March. Shimizu used a stiff southpaw jab to control range and landed numerous solid left hands and eventually dropped the Korean in round six before an attack two rounds later forced the referee to step in and halt the contest. Also on this Ohashi bill, Akira Yaegashi took out Frans Damur Palue in two rounds in his super flyweight debut.
A day later at the same venue, Yusaku Kuga destroyed Ryo Kosaka inside a round to keep hold of his Japanese super bantamweight title and there is now talk of an intriguing showdown between Kuga and former world title challenger Shingo Wake, possibly in the summer. Shohei Omori was due to make his ring return on this show but opponent Coach Hiroto came in badly overweight, a worrying trend that is sadly creeping into Japanese boxing recently.
Kosei Tanaka announced his intentions to become a three-weight world champion as he stopped unbeaten Filipino Ronnie Baldonado on 31 March in Nagoya. Tanaka was careful over the first two rounds but from then on he bullied Baldonado and in round four a cluster of nasty body shots floored the visitor. Baldonado gritted his teeth but more vicious punches to the midsection saw the bout come to an end in round nine and Tanaka is now eyeing up a world title at 112lbs with WBO champion Sho Kimura in his sights.
One of BM’S 2018 ones to watch from Asia, Junto Nakatani, faces an interesting test on 15 April as part of the Ryota Murata vs Emanuele Blandamura undercard. The youngster takes on Mario Andrade, who has a victory over current Japanese champion Masayuki Kuroda, a draw with Oswaldo Novoa and only lost to Jesus Silvestre on a split decision. A win for Nakatani would not only give him a world ranking, as Andrade is rated with the WBC, it should also push him towards a significant title fight for some time later on in the year.
Mark Anthony Barriga has had a change of opponent in his world title eliminator. Originally the Filipino was to square off against Jose Argumedo but he’ll now face Gabriel Mendoza instead at the Solaire Resort in Pasay City on 29 April. The Colombian has fallen short when stepping up in class, losing to Argumedo, Alberto Rossel and Carlos Buitrago and if Barriga has real title aspiration then he needs to see off the 38-year-old.
Naoya Inoue makes his assault on the bantamweight division on 25 May in Tokyo versus Jamie McDonnell. Having been unable to secure the big fights at super flyweight, the Japanese knockout artist has moved up to 118lbs in search of the quality opponents his elite talent deserves. McDonnell is known in the land of the rising sun for a pair of wins over Tomoki Kameda and he has also shared the ring with Liborio Solis.
The bout between Ken Shiro and Ganigan Lopez for the WBC light flyweight belt has also been moved to this card having been originally scheduled for 15 April.
Finally, another pair of amateur standouts have turned over to the professional ranks in Kazakhstan’s Daniyar Yeleussinov and Uzbekistan’s Elnur Abduraimov. Yeleussinov makes his debut on 28 April at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York and he has signed a promotional deal with Eddie Hearn.
The 27-year-old was truly an elite operator, winning golds at the Olympics, World and Asian Championships and he will hopefully be moved extremely quickly due to his supreme skillset and adds an intriguing intangible at welterweight.
Abduraimov was a national champion at Junior, Youth and senior level and claimed a Bronze in 2015 and gold at the 2017 Asian championships. He also won a Bronze at the 2015 world championships and had a 6-3 record in the WSB. The 23-year-old hasn’t got a date for his professional bow as yet but he’ll hopefully be campaigning around the super featherweight limit where he was at his most effective as an amateur.